This year, why not think outside the ubiquitous and well-wrapped gift box and plan a holiday party your friends will never forget? Here are ten unexpected places to throw a surprisingly great bash.
The Gallery Parties
At Glovinsky Gallery of Contemporary Art, 800 West Eighth Avenue, Suite 116, "it's all about the details," says event coordinator Eva Lewis. And those details change depending on the party; anything from live music to feather throwing can be accommodated in the 1,000-square-foot space Cocktails are served at the bar, and guests -- the place holds approximately 35 people -- can mingle amongst a huge collection of art that's always changing. To book, call 303-587-4237 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Part-gallery, part-concert hall, Leon Gallery, at 1112 East 17th Avenue, features solo exhibitions by Denver's finest emerging artists -- and it can be the site for a masterpiece of a party. Grab some friends for cocktails, appetizers and real art appreciation. For more information, call 303-832-1599.
The Big Party
For a blowout event with 150 of your closest friends, book the Oriental Theater at 4335 West 44th Avenue. This independent theater, which can hold up to 400, is the perfect spot for an eclectic bash. "We've done Christmas parties with karaoke," says owner Scott LaBarbera. The big screen can also be used for slide shows and films, or the stage for a live band. "We aren't stuffy or corporate," LaBarbera adds. "Guests have been gushingly happy with the holiday parties we've had." Guests may get gushingly giddy, too, since there's a full-service bar. Outside catering is available, or hosts can bring whatever food they'd like. One caveat: Book soon, since there aren't many available dates left for this holiday season. Call 720-420-0030.
The All-Night Party
What started as a gas station in the middle of farmland has grown into a nationally-recognized, 24/7 truck stop and restaurant -- the iconic Johnson's Corner, at 2842 S.E. Frontage Road of I-25, that's been serving up old-fashioned cooking and hospitality since 1952. "We don't close," says Chauncey Taylor, who lets party-goers do their thing well into the wee hours. The no-muss-no-fuss banquet room holds up to eighty, and there's no room charge as long as everyone in the group has a meal, which can be buffet-style or, for smaller groups, sit-down from off the menu. Alcohol is only available if you sign a waiver. Call 970-667-2069 to reserve your spot.
The Playful Party
Want to bowl over your friends? Rent Elitch Lanes, 3825 Tennyson Street. "Quite frankly," says owner Frank Rangel, "bowling is a lot more social than having a party at a restaurant because bowling affords for talking to everybody in an open environment." The venue has 24 lanes and, while it holds up to 250 partygoers, Rangel's done private parties as small as five. If you want food served with your rental shoes, Rangel mentions that the burger-and-brats buffet is one of his more popular offerings, made with all-natural beef and local kananel brats, and served with fries and onion rings. He also recommends the build-your-own burrito bar. This is a great spot for families, and Rangel is always happy to turn on the cosmic bowling lanes for non-serious bowlers.
The Mindful Party
Give the gift of relaxation: Throw a holiday shindig at Iyengar Yoga Center, 770 South Broadway, where up to 25 folks can let the seasonal stress melt away at a private yoga party. "It's quiet here at our yoga studio," says owner Angie Woyar. You can rent the space for two hours, and Woyar will set you and your pals up with a teacher who fits the desired theme, be it fun and lighthearted or serious and sweaty. All levels of yogis accommodated. Hosts can bring their own refreshments -- light snacks, nothing alcoholic. After de-stressing, your party can head to a nearby Broadway bar, if you'd like something stronger than a Zen green tea. To reserve a spot, call 720-570-9642 or e-mail email@example.com
The Creative Party
Upstairs Circus, which opens this week at 1500 Wynkoop St. #100, offers up a funky place for friends to gather, drink and create. Chose from one of the many pre-set project themes or collaborate on a piece of "social art." Events are custom-tailored to meet your needs and start at $35 per person; drink tickets and truffle parmesan popcorn are available for a few more bucks, and cater-in options are also available. You'll need at least 45 people minimum to rent out the Circus during busy times, such as Thursday nights and weekends when project socials are already scheduled. Weekdays and Monday nights are good options for smaller groups. To book, call 720-924-6070 or use this online form.
The Philanthropic Party
Consider corralling a group of friends and spending a day volunteering with Habitat for Humanity Metro Denver, which offers a variety of group opportunities. You don't have to be a weekend handyguy (or gal) to help build homes for those in need. No prior construction experience is required, and Habitat will provide all necessary safety equipment, tools, materials and supervision. Build days take place Thursdays through Saturdays and are happening throughout December. A one-day commitment is required; and it's BYO water and lunch. To view the current list of available workdays for groups (usually between three and ten people), click here. For more information, e-mail Trisha Koizumi at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 303-534-2929.
The Needle Party
Don't worry: This party's all about the safe, hygienic kind of needles. Rent out Pin & Tonic, 1100 East Evans Avenue, and throw an acupuncture party. Lisa Bullis's community-style rooms are perfect for getting pinned while socializing. After treatments, friends can gather in the waiting area and enjoy food and drinks (BYO). For private parties, there's a five-person minimum and ten-person limit. Find out more at 303-733-3317.
The Family Party
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Speaking of intravenous drugs, for young families looking to connect with their kids in tow, there's the mama'hood, 2902 Zuni Street. Rent out the bright, cheerful yoga pod for intimate gatherings that include parent-child yoga or another parent-and-me offering. Or, for larger get-togethers, rent the entire space. "The retail floor is fairly open, so kids can run around and parents don't have to worry," says general manager Allie Schneider. Community toys will keep the children entertained while adults mingle. Hosts can bring their own snacks, or Schneider can help with catering. There's also the adjoining Tea Bar for delicious refreshments. To book the space, call Schneider at 303-643-5662 ext. 4 or e-mail email@example.com.